On Wednesday, Harrah’s released the results of the voting for the 2010 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions (TOC), results which will likely surprise nobody.  Leading the way were fan favorites Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, who were separated by just 28 votes, each being named on over 16,000 ballots.
A total of 27 players will compete in the made-for-television $1 million freeroll.  Public internet voting opened on March 15th for 20 of the spots in the event and ran through Tuesday.  Only World Series of Poker bracelet holders were eligible to be on the ballot.  Of the remaining seven spots, five were reserved for automatic qualifiers and two were reserved for sponsor exemptions.  The automatic qualifiers were Team UB.com pro Annie Duke, Team Full Tilt member Mike Matusow, and PartyPoker poker ambassador Mike Sexton, each of whom won one of the three previous Tournaments of Champions, as well as CardPlayer magazine CEO Barry Shulman, who is the reigning WSOP Europe champ, and Joe Cada, the reigning WSOP Main Event champ.  Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier won a WSOP Academy Sit-and-Go to grab one of the sponsor exemptions and Andrew Barton won a WSOP.com UK qualifier for the other.
The top 20 vote getters, for the most part, represent those players who have received the most television exposure during the heart of the poker boom or are otherwise the names that the general, casual poker public has heard of.  One notable exception to this is Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 Main Event winner who many point to as one of the primary catalysts of said poker boom.  Almost half the top 20 is represented by other men who have won the WSOP Main Event, including Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Johnny Chan, Scotty Nguyen, Huck Seed, Dan Harrington, Greg Raymer, and Joe Hachem.
Two months ago, Harrah’s released the top 20 vote getters at that time, just to give fans a feel for how the balloting was going.  As it turns out there were absolutely no changes in the list two months later.  We don’t know if the rankings within the list changed, but every single player that was in the top 20 in mid-April ended up on the list when voting closed.
Here is the breakdown of the 20 players who were elected to play in the 2010 WSOP TOC, along with the number of votes they received:
Phil Ivey – 16,267
Daniel Negreanu – 16,239
Doyle Brunson – 13,796
Phil Hellmuth – 12,673
Chris Ferguson – 11,585
Allen Cunningham – 10,486
Johnny Chan – 10,434
Scotty Nguyen – 9,834
Barry Greenstein – 9,806
John Juanda – 8,835
Erik Seidel – 8,802
Jennifer Harman – 8,206
Huck Seed – 8,180
Dan Harrington – 7,342
T.J. Cloutier – 6,281
Sammy Farha – 6,085
Howard Lederer – 5,596
Greg Raymer – 5,404
Joe Hachem – 5,272
Antonio Esfandiari – 5,129
Originally, the TOC was to start on June 27th and play down to the final table.  The final nine players would then reconvene on July 4th to finish the tournament.  That schedule has been tweaked a bit, probably to avoid the chance of play going on way too long on the first day.  It will start on June 27th as planned, but instead of playing until nine competitors remain, the champions will play just four levels (unless, of course, a winner is determined before that).  On June 28th, four more levels will be run.  Then, on July 4th, all of the remaining players will sit down to complete the tournament.
The winner of the Tournament of Champions will take home $500,000.  The runner-up will get $250,000, third place will get $100,000, and fourth through ninth will earn $25,000.

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